Lloyd Doyley’s patience looks set to be rewarded with a rare Colchester United start
Lloyd Doyley has been waiting in the wings for most of this season, but the veteran defender looks poised to finally break into the Colchester United starting line-up.
Centre-half Doyley arrived at Colchester last October, with 398 league appearances under his belt in a long and distinguished career, almost exclusively at Watford.
But the 34-year-old has had to bide his time, taking his tally to the magic 400-mark for league games with his one and only start, a 2-1 defeat at Plymouth on October 29, an a brief outing as an 89th minute substitute in a 4-2 win at Stevenage on New Year’s Eve.
Now, though, he is set to be selected for tomorrow’s home match against Barnet, with centre-half Tom Eastman struggling with an ankle injury sustained at Blackpool last weekend.
Doyley did not come on for Eastman at Bloomfield Road, because the U’s had already used all three substitutes in a 1-1 draw.
“I’m chomping at the bit to play,” insisted Doyley.
“We’ve been on a great run, so I’ve had to wait and be patient for when the boss (John McGreal) needs me.
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“And that’s the way you want it really. You want competition, as part of the squad, and I’m just here waiting, trying to train well every day to get myself into the team.
“It’s something that I have not really been used to, having to bide my time, because to be honest I have always played throughout my career.
“But I know how football is – if the team is winning, then the winning team does not change.
“The back three have been awesome, over the last 10 or 12 games. I have had to wait.
“We still don’t know what is going to happen on Saturday, but hopefully I will be back involved,” added Doyley.
A one-man club for so many years – Doyley was at Watford from the age of nine, from 1991 – he was recruited by U’s boss McGreal as much for his experience and know-how to help out the younger players, as for his own defensive attributes on the pitch,
His one start at Plymouth was a tough ask, coming in the middle of the U’s 13-match winless run, but he is now set to operate in a team that has risen to ninth in the table, with just one defeat suffered in their last 11 league matches.
“I came in for one game at Plymouth,” explained Doyley.
“I’d been in that situation before – you can lose one game then lose four or five, and it becomes normal and it is hard to get out of.
“But once you start winning games, you start going into games feeling that you are invincible, and I think that’s how it has been for us in recent weeks.
“That 10 or 11 games unbeaten saw us as the in-form team in the league at the time.
“But it was hard for me to come in at Plymouth, when we weren’t winning.
“Since then I’ve not been playing, but I’ve been travelling a lot – so it would be good if we could fly!
“However, I’ve been a part of the squad, and at the end of the day I am here to help the young lads as much as it is for me to be kicking on with my career.
“There are a lot of young lads here, and I am here trying to help.
“Even in training, or at half-time in games, I help them along and try to encourage them and tell them maybe what they could be doing better.
“So I think that’s why the boss brought me here.
“If the boot was on the other foot and I was a part of the starting XI, which hadn’t lost a game in 10 or 11 outings, then I would be annoyed if I was dropped.
“So it’s the same both ways, I’m happy as a member of the squad for us to be winning.”